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A memorable year for Rory, the king of Europe

Singapore was a nail-biter for more reasons than one

Gulf News

Even though it was a very disappointing week for me personally, the Barclays Singapore Open turned out to be one of the more memorable finishes on the European Tour this year.

To say there was a lot of drama over the four days at Sentosa Golf Club would be an understatement. Starting from all the anxiety over the weather delays to the fascinating battle that developed on the final day between Matteo Manassero and Louis Oosthuizen, it was a nail-biter.

In the end, despite the massive delays because of the thunderstorms on the first two days, the weather gods relented over the weekend and we had full play. And Manassero became the only teenager on the European Tour to win three tournaments after he prevailed in a tense playoff that finally got settled in the third extra hole against Oosthuizen.

While all this was happening, there was also the coronation of Rory McIlroy as the new King of Europe. That had to wait too, because a win by Oosthuizen would have given him a slim chance of stopping the world No. 1 from winning the Race to Dubai, if he went on to win the DP World Tour Championship as well.

Of course, I had to pull out of the tournament after the opening round. I jarred my injured finger while practicing the day before, and it flared up. I struggled to a 77 and there was no way I could have continued. I have also pulled out of this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open with the hope that that rest of 10 odd days would be enough to get me ready for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, which is an extremely important event for us.

It was all the more disappointing for me because I won the tournament in 2008, which was the last time all 72 holes were played on Serapong course, and was really looking forward to doing well this year.

What Manassero managed to achieve becomes even more significant because he had to play 35 holes in the stifling heat and humidity of Singapore on the final day. As much as it was a test of skill, it was also a test of endurance and physical fitness. There are a few more months to go before he steps out of the teen years, so you know he is the player to watch out for. Perhaps we will have a McIlroy-Manassero rivalry in not too distant a future.

As for McIlroy, no praise is high enough. He needed to finish in top three to make sure he won the Race to Dubai, and he did exactly that with a stunning eagle on the final hole.

What a year he has had! He has snatched the world No. 1 crown from Luke Donald and won the Money List on both sides of the Atlantic. And if that wasn’t enough, he also won his second career Major at the PGA Championship. We all know McIlroy is a very special talent, and I am sure this is only the beginning of what should be a phenomenal career.

(Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour)